Team Building Ideas to Try With Your Nurses

Say the words, “team-building” and you’re likely to elicit groans from your nursing team. Team building can be a wasted effort if the activity doesn’t bond people together. Even worse, if the team-building effort feels ineffective, the targeted group can feel like you wasted their time. For knowledge workers like nurses, the last thing an HR or management team wants to do is make them feel like a team-building event is wasted time or, perhaps worse, “forced fun.” 

But if your nursing team is siloed, disjointed, stressed, or otherwise not functioning or communicating well, management will need to find an effective way to bring them together, or workflows and patient outcomes may suffer. 

Team building, when done properly, has proven effective at bringing function back to dysfunctional teams. Here are some effective ways to bring your nursing teams together. 

Start Team Building During Onboarding 

Far too often, new nurses are thrown into the mix too fast, especially when hospital teams are too busy. Orientation may consist of a floor tour and a chart handoff, and this can even happen with per diem or traveling nurses. But extending support to new staff is an important way to build camaraderie with the entire team. Assigning a team to welcome new staff consisting of HR and members of the existing team. Sending out a text and email to welcome a new team member can help make someone new feel more at home. Putting up a sign to welcome the new person is a nice touch. But always make sure the new person has a mentor on the existing team to help the new person acclimate. Over time, this will naturally forge tighter relationships on the whole team. 

Continue the Ties That Bind 

Consider making the orientation committee into more of an engagement committee by encouraging members to come up with fun ways to bond unit staff both during and after work. Potlucks or catered meals, group dinners, staff picnics, bowling night, happy hours—the list is endless. You’ll find that just instigating a few every quarter will naturally bring people closer together.  

Find Reasons to Celebrate 

From staff birthdays to funny contests, hiring and management teams should help busy nursing units by sponsoring and encouraging reasons to celebrate. You can also suggest ways to give back, especially during the holidays. Raising money for a cause or having a toy drive at Christmas is an excellent way to bring people together. Leadership should always lead by example in this area and should be the first ones participating in these types of events. 

Conduct an Icebreaker 

If you’re doing an in-service training or have a team lunch, start it off with an ice-breaker. A good one is to divide teams by table or in pods of three or four. Then have them write down a list of five things the whole group has in common (Tip: It can’t be that they work together or wear scrubs.) 

While these are just a few team-building suggestions, sometimes a team simply doesn’t gel. If you’re a nurse in this situation, perhaps it’s time to reach out to MAS Medical to discuss your 2020 options. For nurse managers and hiring teams, MAS Medical has top talent to round out your existing teams. Talk to us today. 


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